Tuesday, September 21, 1999

Alton Telegraph

Location: Alton, Illinois

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Alton Telegraph (Newspaper) - September 21, 1999, Alton, Illinois SERVING THE RIVER BEND SINCE 1836 TIO ti mo skua nm HEAD IO HERD-AGAIN lark McGwire 59 home runs after ISO games SaminuVSosa 61 home runs after 150 games The outlook Partly cloudy and cod; high near 62, low near 39 PageD6 Indian hours Grafton shop specializes in handmade jewelry and art Vol. 164, No. 249 — 50 cents ■■HHnnHMIMMMI Tuesday, September 21,1999 www.thetelegraph.com Forgery victim helps crack case By DENNIS GRUBAUGH Telegraph staff writer EDWARDSVILLE - A couple who allegedly went on a eheck-forging spree at the expense of account holders across the state is in jail today, thanks to one Alton victim who played detective to find them. Authorities in several jurisdictions were looking for Amy C. Meeks, 21, and Chad A. Landrum, 27, before victim Marie Berkley caught up to them Thursday in Glen Carbon. Amateur detective cashes in alleged crooks The story began in May when Charleston police were alerted to a series of bad checks allegedly being written by Meeks and Landrum, who are described as girlfriend-boyfriend. Meeks is from Mount Vernon; Landrum is from Paris, 111. “Basically, what they had done was obtain a savings account book from a former roommate and had gotten hold of a checking account from another former roommate," said Gordon Henderson, a detective with the Charleston Police. The couple would make a deposit on the savings account using a forged check from the other account, then go back a few days later and withdraw the cash from the savings account, he said The couple had got ten hold of a box of blank checks that arrived in the mail for one roommate after the roommate had moved out, Henaerson said. Two Coles County banks notified police, but by then the couple was already gone from the area, Henderson said. The period between May and the present is less clear, although there are signs that the couple continued writing bad checks, using the same kind of procedure they allegedly engineered in Charleston. There were multiple deceptive practices warrants out for their arrest in Coles, Washington and Jefferson counties. Berkley became familiar with them this month — the hard way. “I went to Union Planters Bank in Wood River to do some business, and they told me my accounts had been ■ See FORGERY, Page A7 Repairs begin The Telegraph/MARGIE M. BARNES Harold Brown, of Edwardsville, uses a jackhammer Monday as repairs to the railroad overpass on New Poag Road begins just east of Wanda Road. Traffic will be detoured off of New Poag Road onto Wanda Road until the project is finished in early October. Keller Construction, Inc. of Glen Carbon is heading the project. Man pleads guilty to second-degree murder of brother By DENNIS GRUBAUGH Telegraph staff writer EDWARDSVILLE - An Alton man who killed his brother, then found strong support from his grief-stricken family, pleaded guilty Monday in the slaying Quanotho Kyles, 25, of the 300 block of Dry Street, entered a guilty plea in Madison County Circuit Court to second-degree murder, reduced from the original charge of first-degree murder. Because of his prior criminal history, he cannot get probation, Assistant Public Defender Neil Hawkins said. Although legally he could get up to 40 years under extended sentencing laws, the judge has bound himself to not go beyond 20 years, Hawkins said. Meanwhile, Assistant Kyles State’s Attorney Don Weber said he would be “recommending a pretty stiff sentence.” Pierre I). Kyles, 22, was killed Dec. 17 by a single gunshot would to the upper left chest during a family gathering in the OOO block of Spring Street, at the home of a third brother, Jose Kyles. “(Quanotho) had a gun and his brother had a baseball bat and they were advancing on each other,” Weber said “But the shooting actually took place outside, and no one saw it.” Kyles’ plea is based on the fact that even though he believes the shooting was justifiable, the law believes it was unreasonable, Weber said. Shortly after Kyles’ arrest, family members contacted authorities to plead with them to reduce or drop the charges. “I had a petition from all the family saying they didn’t want him to go to prison,” Weber said. “He has to get at least four years in prison.” ■ See MURDER, Page A7 Work on 1-55 rest stops moving along By DEBORAH L. BATES Telegraph staff writer EDWARDSVILLE - A $7 million project to construct a pair of rest stops on Interstate 55 should be complete in November, the Illinois Department of Transportation says. “It’s coming along better than we thought it was going to,” said Bernie Fahey, project implementation engineer for IDOT. “We’re shooting for prior to Thanksgiving.” IDOT started paving the ground for the rest stops, which are located on each side of 1-55 about 5.5 miles north of the Illinois Route 143 exit, in January 1994. There was a delay for a couple of years while IDOT waited to acquire more funding. The project is currently priced at $7,155,725, but final figures won’t be known until after the entire project is complete. The project is funded with federal and state high- ■ Se.e REST, Page A7 Good Morning Area/Illinois ---- ...A3 Beasley, Burch, Conlin, Bulletin Board .. .. .A6 Forbes, Gloss, Hill, Business....... ...DI Johnson, Krotz, Langel, Editorial ....... ...A4 Mason, Norris, Stolze, Nation&World .. .. .C6 Valenti, Wiedman Obituaries...... .. .A5 Scoreboard........Bl Mercantile now deposited in Firstar By KERRY SMITH Telegraph staff writer The bank signs and statements won’t change until March, but Mercantile Bank officially became part of Firstar Corporation on Monday. Known to area residents as a familiar, longstanding financial    institution, Mercantile banks abound in the River Bend. Mercantile public affairs vice president Beth Fagan said the change in ownership, and ultimately the change in name, brings with it nothing but good news for local Mercantile customers.    ^ “The exciting news for Alton-area customers is that we’ll now be able to offer some new kinds of accounts along with expanded hours of operation at our branches,” said Fagan. “The people who have been serving customers in this community for years will continue to be familiar faces to their River Bend customers. The name change will not bring any change in the faces our customers are ■ See FIRSTAR, Page A7 The Telegraph/MARGIE M BARNES Willie Jenkins, of Alton, leaves the Mercantile Bank on Washington in Upper Alton Monday after conducting business. Mercantile Bank officially became a part of the Firstar Corporation on Monday. 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